The Northwoods League ( NWL) is a collegiate summer baseball league in the Upper Midwest. Since founded in 1994, the NWL has grown to 20 teams with the most attendance of any summer league. TwinCities Business published an in-depth look at the league's history and finances: A League of His Own (May 25, 2018).
What makes the NWL possibly better than the CCBL?
- Games are at minor league-quality ballparks, some of which were vacated by Major League Baseball as they moved franchises further south for larger cities and better spring weather.
- The NWL and its franchises seem to have more money than any other summer league; this is because the NWL is for-profit, and teams operate in larger markets than the CCBL. More money means that the league and its franchises can invest more in the fan and player experience.
- The Grind. Unlike the CCBL, teams must take long bus rides to travel between cities, which more accurately replicates what a player will experience in the minors.
Ultimately, both leagues have their unique appeal. The NWL fills a void left by former Minor League and independent ball clubs in the Upper Midwest. The CCBL provides a nostalgic experience with town-based teams.
The most significant difference between the leagues? The CCBL has the top talent. In the 2017 MLB draft, 253 CCBL alumni were selected, with 10 players in the first round (CCBL's MLB Draft results). The NWL had 181 alumni selected, with no players in the first round (NWL's MLB Draft results).